September 2020 Market Update

Here Comes Fall (and all things pumpkin spice)

The Global Pandemic has not slowed down the real estate market here in Northern Virginia. Low inventory levels continue to be the main issue as there are many buyers in the market and not enough homes to purchase. Couple this with historically low-interest rates, and we have a solid seller’s market, which also means we have an extremely challenging buyer’s market. Today, the median days on the market are just six days, and the average days on market are only 19. Now, of course, there are some properties in specific locations and price points that are staying on the market longer, but generally speaking, most houses are selling quickly. Buyers need to make decisions swiftly and make solid offers if they want to be in the running as the next owner of their home of choice.

In today’s market, we do have some additional challenges, not just the shortage of homes for sale. A remarkably close second challenge we are experiencing involves the lending process if the buyer does not select the right lender. For example, we are encountering long lead times for appraisals, lack of urgency to close loans on time (they treat the purchase transactions like a refinance and the loan is in the order it was received,) numerous appraisals coming in low as buyers are escalating prices above market price and response time frames from the loan officer as they are overwhelmed with refinances. As a side note, it is extremely important to select the right lender when you are accepting a contract on your listing or when you are buying your home. The highest offer is not always the best offer.

Additionally, we have a lot of stress in the market. Buyers are losing out on multiple homes, which causes frustration. Sellers not receiving offers as high as they believe they should make them anxious. Agents can be rude, arrogant, unresponsive, and unprofessional, which causes everyone to stress out.  It is so important today to hire the right agent to guide you through the home selling or home buying process, an agent that knows how to navigate with you for a smooth and seamless process. So, if you are looking to sell or buy a house today, call me – I have helped many others successfully buy and sell properties in today’s unbalanced market.

I hope you have a great Labor Day!

August 2020 Market Update

As we enter the dog days of summer and the Month of Miracles…

And prepare for a new version of back-to-school, I hope you and your family are safe, remaining healthy, and are making wise decisions when going out in public.

This month’s update may seem like a broken record, but it is what it is these days. Inventory levels of resales homes in Northern Virginia remain extremely low – 41% below last year’s levels.  Currently, there are only 2,714 houses for sale throughout our area, which includes Arlington, Fairfax, Prince William, Loudoun, and Fauquier Counties, as well as all the cities in between. Even with low inventory levels, sales remain strong as they are up 18% week-over-week from last year and up 17% over the previous 30 days from last year. This result is a .7 month’s supply of houses – last year it was a 1.5-month supply. We are still receiving multiple offers on our listings, and the median days on market are a mere seven days making it an exceptionally strong seller’s market. I believe we are going to be in this market for some time as the discussions I am having with homeowners and agents is that they are not likely to sell or they don’t have a lot of houses coming on the market. This has resulted in the increased prices we are seeing. Year to date, prices are up 6.25% over the same time frame from last year. As I’ve said before, it is an excellent time to be a seller. If you are considering selling, call me to discuss your situation in
more detail.

Buyers do have challenges in today’s low inventory, multiple contract situation market we are in, but we are getting our clients into homes! Our team has exclusive strategy sessions where we share ideas on how we are negotiating to get our clients the home of their dreams. These sessions and strategies have been working, which is great for our clients. In addition to this, interest rates are now below 3%! The expectation is they are going to stay in this range for some time, so there is good news for those looking to become owners or potentially moving up to their “forever” homes. If you are considering looking into the option of purchasing a home, call me to set up a private consultation. I am here to help!

Please remember, even if now is not the right time for you to buy or sell, it may be the perfect time for you to refinance! I can put you in touch with one of our lender partners, so feel free to reach out.

Stay cool in this heatwave we are experiencing. Good luck to all of the students out there! Curious what the Month of Miracles is? Give me a call, I’d love to tell you all about it!

July 2020 Market Update

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As We Begin to Reopen…

As we transition into Phase III with some areas beginning to open up while others remain on restricted status, I encourage you to stay safe, make wise decisions when you go out in public, so you and your family continue to remain healthy.

The result of the pandemic has limited the number of houses coming on to the market here in Northern Virginia. Potential sellers are still concerned about people coming into their homes, which is understandable during this time. The crazy thing is – the pandemic and various Phases we have been in have not slowed down home sales! The inventory level of houses for sale is down 43% from this same week last year, yet sales are up 16.5%. It is critical that we find people looking to sell their home and are comfortable doing so because we are continuing to see multiple contracts on houses throughout Northern Virginia (in most price points). It is not uncommon to receive 15-25 contracts on a house in less than 48 hours when it is priced right, in the right condition and location. Most recently, I heard about a condominium in Falls Church that received 44 contracts – one of our fellow agents lost out on that one just last week.

The onslaught of offers has prices escalating, and as a result, we are experiencing some appraisal issues. I make sure to set the proper expectations for both sellers and buyers if I feel the house will not appraise.  In addition to this, I meet the appraiser at the property to keep them informed on the situation – the number of contracts, prices, the quantity of showings, etc. to try to avoid low appraisals. However, they still are happening in some cases, as some prices just cannot be supported by the appraisers. We have had several people waive the appraisal contingency to secure a home, which has been great for my sellers. We have also had many appraisal waivers from lenders when the borrower has excellent credit, is putting down 20% or more, and the neighborhood can support the pricing. To learn more about this, please call me.

Buyers – get in the game!  We can help, and rates are still amazing. Today’s rates are below 3% on 30-year fixed loans. Additionally, if you aren’t planning to move and you haven’t refinanced, now is a great time. Call me to learn more about this and our strategies to win in multiple contract situations or for a connection to one of my preferred lending partners. I am always here to help!

I hope you had a great 4th of July!!

Start your home search HERE

 

June 2020 Market Update

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First and foremost, I trust you are staying safe and making wise decisions when going out in public, so you remain healthy!

So, you may be wondering what was happening in the real estate business during the pandemic while we were on stay at home status. As I mentioned previously, we were deemed essential, so we could still “work” and help people make wise decisions when selling, buying, or leasing properties. And let me tell you, this pandemic did not stop our local real estate market, as houses are selling and selling fast in many cases. The median days on market in Northern Virginia in March were six; in April, it was five, and I am guessing that we will have the same result in May. The average days on market stand at just 28 days.  We still have an extremely low inventory level today, and we have a tremendous number of buyers out in the marketplace resulting in a feeding frenzy in many price points and in most locations throughout Northern Virginia. Today, the number of homes for sale is 40% below this same time last year and is down 51% from two years ago. We currently have less than one month’s supply of homes, which is historically low. The bottom line is – we need more houses to sell to keep up with the demand.

Mortgage interest rates are incredibly low – around 3.25% today. The great rates are one contributing factor to home sales as it is more affordable (on a monthly basis) to own versus renting in many cases. The rental market remains on fire as well as demand is strong for rentals. Additionally, prices are increasing across the region, and buyers want to begin their wealth-building strategy of homeownership. One interesting dynamic that we are seeing is more first-time buyers entering the market and fewer investors/cash transactions.

It is still a great time to both buy and sell if you take the proper precautions. Give me a call me to discuss your situation in more detail, especially now that we are entering Phase 1. The big question to be answered by the next newsletter is… Did more people decide to sell now that we are in Phase 1 or potentially Phase 2? Lastly, if you went into forbearance on your mortgage or other debts or if you are thinking about it, please call me so I can explain the process and ramifications.

Happy Summer!!

May 2020 Market Update

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Hopefully, you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy during these unprecedented times. As previously mentioned, real estate is considered an essential business and as such, we have adapted to new ways of conducting business. Yes, homes are being purchased, sold, and leased – people need shelter. We are lucky as we can help those in need of our services. Due to the different lockdown restrictions, many of my friends across the country and around the world cannot help people with their housing needs. It is strange to me how in some areas, lenders, title companies, home inspectors, appraisers, and other professionals are considered essential, but REALTORS are not.  Not to being political here but how can REALTORS not be deemed essential and the others can be? How can they conduct their business without a REALTOR selling the house prior to needing their services?  Odd to me.

Locally, we are practicing all real estate services albeit on a more limited basis and in a different way.  We are doing virtual showings for buyers who do not want to go out to see homes in person. We are conducting virtual open houses and scheduling appointment only showings during the virtual open houses. Settlements are outside or even drive up style – many with no REALTORS present.  We are also seeing e-closings with no one present in the same room. We are wearing masks, gloves, and booties during showings and bringing disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer – for everyone’s health and safety. If you are considering buying, selling, or leasing a house, it is still possible and I am willing and able to help, so let’s discuss how this all works in more detail.

Now, let’s talk numbers. Inventory levels remain low – 34% below this same time last year. We currently have only 2,974 houses for sale in all of Northern Virginia. Contracts written the previous 30 days are down 31% versus the same week last year. Lastly, closings the previous 30 days are down 20% from the same time last year. Now, the good news is sales have gone up each of the last four weeks and when houses do come on the market, they sell quickly when priced right and they are in the right condition.  We continue to see multiple contracts in many homes throughout the area as well. We have had many buyers move to the sidelines during the pandemic and some sellers have decided to wait or have pulled their homes off the market until “the coast is clear”. One thing is for certain, we will have a lot of pent up demand for housing when we return to a new normal as we have more buyers on the sidelines than sellers. I envision an even more competitive housing market in the future.

Be safe, make wise decisions when going out in public so you and your family remain healthy.

April 2020 Market Update

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First and foremost, I hope you are being safe and making good decisions when going out in public so you can remain healthy. Please let me know if I can do anything at all for you during the COVID-19 situation we are in today.

I never imagined that I would be writing a blog commentary like this one. It is insane. Quite frankly, I can’t remember a time when I have said crazy or insane so often but what other words can be used to describe what is going on around the world. Things are happening so rapidly with changes day to day, hour to hour and even minute to minute. The government has stepped in with the $2.2 trillion stimulus package to assist monetarily but is it enough? Only time will tell.

I am still asked the popular question, “what is happening in the real estate market” several times a day.  Well, that too changes daily. We have been asked to shift our normal process to include doing virtual showings and virtual open houses, to stop searching for buyers, take listings off the market as well as the complete opposite. Some people need to sell so they are keeping their houses on the market and some buyers need to buy because they recently sold their house or their lease is ending, or a job has relocated them here. Some agents are not showing properties or taking listings and others are as active as ever. My response to all of this is simple, if you are not comfortable selling your house, looking at houses or working in this environment, then please don’t.  We would never want you to be uncomfortable or do something that may put your health at risk.

If you are comfortable with the process, please take the appropriate precautions. As such, in an effort to protect our clients and the public as a whole, we are implementing new protocols when any agent, whether from our company or others, shows our listings or if we show houses to our clients. If you are interested in learning more about these protocols, please feel free to call me, I would be happy to share them with you.

Again, please be safe so you can remain healthy and know I am here to help you in any way I can. I hope you have a very Happy Easter with loved ones, it will be one we never forget.

March 2020 Market Update

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It’s March Already!

It seems like just yesterday that we started the new decade. You know the saying; time goes by faster when you are busy and boy have we been busy!

The real estate market continues to be very brisk. For example, I have scheduled appointments on a Thursday afternoon to show properties for the coming weekend. Several of the homes went under contract so quick resulting in canceled appointments (and sad clients). These houses were in various areas and various price points throughout Northern Virginia, not isolated in one area. In conversations with sellers, I have been letting them know that even though there are bidding wars, multiple contract situations, etc. the price and condition of the house still rule. If prices are too high for the area/neighborhood or if the home needs some work, it will sit on the market with little to no activity and definitely without offers! When priced well and in “HGTV condition”, there is a feeding frenzy. Buyers in today’s market, realistic or not, are looking for the perfect house and they are willing to pay for it. So, as a seller, get your house in top condition and price it right to get it sold and not be just “for sale”.

Lately, the news and social media have been inundated with information on the Coronavirus. The stock market has dropped over 4,000 points and this question is now coming up in conversation more often; “should I be concerned as a buyer or seller?” At this time, there are concerns but as I previously mentioned, we are still in a great area with sales at a feverish pace. My concern would be more for buyers and sellers in the luxury market. As part of their wealth may be invested in the stock market and as a result, there could be a concern but as we know, the market continuously ebbs and flows and this one is no different. There will be a cure for this killer virus, the stock market will rebound, and houses will continue to be bought and sold. Have no fear! If you would like to discuss this in more detail, feel free to call me.

As always, I am here to help you and your family and friends with their real estate needs. Happy Spring!

 

February 2020 Market Update

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Unusual February Weather

The weather in February is heating up just like the Northern Virginia real estate market.  The Spring Market is in full swing and should continue because Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow and therefore, I think this market will continue to stay on fire.

All jokes aside, we are still experiencing unusually low inventory levels, tons of buyers in the marketplace and in many cases, multiple offers on properties. This situation leads to frustration on many levels as some buyers are missing out several times on homes.  The reasons vary, but many are because of their loan qualification levels, shortage of homes for sale in their price point (so there is increased competition), their cash availability and in some instances, not wanting to waive contingencies. Sellers get frustrated because they hear of these types of situations and they are not receiving multiple contracts, or they don’t believe prices have escalated high enough. The other possibility is that they are not receiving contracts at all. Unfortunately, these circumstances happen often as sellers may not have been educated by their agents as to what to expect of the market in their price point and location – many times they do not lend themselves to be in these situations. Other times, they have started their price too high and discerning buyers realize the escalated price is already “built-in” to the sellers original sales price.

Additionally, many houses are already overpriced, and buyers are not willing to even make an offer. As I always say and today it is still evident, you need to be in the right condition and priced right to sell. A high price is always a deal killer. If you are thinking about selling, I can walk you through the market you can expect to be in now and potentially in the future.

Lastly, agents can be frustrated – like me – because other agents don’t educate their clients about the market. Inventory is 30% below where it was this time last year. There are only 1,881 total houses for sale in all Northern Virginia. Lower price points have the highest number of buyers and therefore the highest potential of multiple offers. Agents are showing clients houses priced at $450,000 when the buyer only qualifies for $425,000 and needs closing cost assistance. Guess what?  It’s not going to happen in today’s market. Same for a buyer who has a top end of $450,000. Don’t waste their time it’s not going to happen. Lately, the lower price point properties have been receiving upwards of 25 contracts and are escalating thousands to tens of thousands above list price. Buyers need a knowledgeable agent to educate and set proper expectations when buying in today’s competitive market. You can win, but you need the right agent. Call me if you or anyone you know is looking to buy or sell a home.

I hope you are all taking advantage of these great February temps! Get out there and have fun!

January 2020 Market Update

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Happy New Year!

As we enter the New Year and New Decade of the 2020’s we are experiencing the lowest levels of available homes for sale in years. We currently have just 1,946 homes for sale in all of Northern Virginia. We have a serious need for more houses to come on the market! As of the end of December, we were experiencing multiple contract situations on many houses throughout our area – as many as 23 offers on one house. The demand is there, the housing supply is not. Sales last year outpaced sales from 2018 by nearly 1.5% through November and should outpace sales through December as well. Interest rates remain very low making it more attractive to buy versus rent in many cases. Those who previously suffered credit damage from the housing crisis during the great recession in the mid-2000s are now recovered and property values are increasing making now a more desirable to time own. Therefore, we now have a lot of pent up demand for housing at all price points.

Additionally, there is also a shortage of rentals available on the market, so when they do become available, they rent quickly. There is currently just a half month’s supply of rental houses in Northern Virginia. These factors definitely make it an ideal time to sell or rent your home. Call me to learn more about how you can position yourself for success in this market when making this decision.

Overall the economy is strong in Northern Virginia. Unemployment is very low in our area and with Amazon ahead on their hiring, I don’t see a change in this for us. The only issues we are really facing are the trade talks with China and Trump says the phase one agreement will be signed mid-January and the Iranian situation. Will this escalate to yet another war? If either of these issues goes awry, we could have economic problems that could affect the market as we know, only time will tell.

The good news is we continue to have a robust real estate market and I am available to help you when you are looking to make a move.  Make the 20’s your best ever!

December 2019 Market Update

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Wow, did November fly by or what?  It seems like I just sent my November newsletter and here we are in December already – crazy to me for sure. November brought a few substantial changes in our industry. First is the way we must now market our listings. The ability to pre-market homes as we know it has gone by the wayside. Previously, we could use signs, online marketing on social media sites, real estate websites, networking events and/or email campaigns to get the word out about future listings either days, weeks or months in advance. Now, we must put the home in MLS within one business day as active or in “Coming Soon” status once the property is marketed to the public in the aforementioned ways. It is more consumer-friendly as it opens up all houses to the buyers and it also gives sellers maximum exposure to all buyers by sharing the properties with all agents. Before this new rule, there were agents who would privately market homes to the detriment of the seller and potential buyers. This change will also provide accurate data in MLS for sales information, so we all know what sales prices and concessions are and inform us if the sale was an arm’s length transactions or not.  This is helpful for pricing houses for both buyers and sellers as well as appraisers. To learn how this can affect you when deciding to sell your house, give me a call, I’m happy to share more details.

The second area is financing houses and loan amounts. Here is a brief history of what FHFA has done since 2016 with conventional loans: back in 2016, the FHFA increased the conforming loan limits from $417,000 to $424,100. Then, the next year, the FHFA raised the loan limits from $424,100 to $453,100 for 2018. And in 2018, the FHFA increased the loan limit from $453,100 to $484,350 for 2019. Lastly, just last week, the new loan limits will be $510,000 for 2020. Jumbo loans will now go up to $765,600 in our area. Jumbo loans typically have higher interest rates. Please call to learn more about how this can help you when buying or selling a house.

Also, VA loans no longer have a limit, but they do have liability issues which can affect the amount of your loan going forward. If you are a veteran, your eligibility will drive your maximum loan amount. In addition, the funding fee for zero-down loans will be 2.3% of the loan amount in 2020, up from 2.15% for regular military in 2019. The fee for subsequent use loans will be 3.6% of the loan amount, up from the current 3.3%. You can pay the fee upfront or roll the cost into the loan. These go into effect for any loan that closes after January 1, 2020. Again, if you have any questions at all, please call me.

I hope you have a safe, fun and festive holiday season with all of your family and friends!